Westerners join Iraqi Christian militia to fight Islamic State

Scott, (C) a Westerner who has joined the Iraqi Christian militia Dwekh Nawsha to fight against Islamic militants, carries his weapon at the office of the Assyrian political party in Dohuk, northern Iraq February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

(Reuters) – Saint Michael, the archangel of battle, is tattooed across the back of a U.S. army veteran who recently returned to Iraq and joined a Christian militia fighting Islamic State in what he sees as a biblical war between good and evil.

Brett, 28, carries the same thumb-worn pocket Bible he did whilst deployed to Iraq in 2006 – a picture of the Virgin Mary tucked inside its pages and his favorite verses highlighted.

“It’s very different,” he said, asked how the experiences compared. “Here I’m fighting for a people and for a faith, and the enemy is much bigger and more brutal.”

Thousands of foreigners have flocked to Iraq and Syria in the past two years, mostly to join Islamic State, but a handful of idealistic Westerners are enlisting as well, citing frustration their governments are not doing more to combat the ultra-radical Islamists or prevent the suffering of innocents.

The militia they joined is called Dwekh Nawsha – meaning self-sacrifice in the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Christ and still used by Assyrian Christians, who consider themselves the indigenous people of Iraq…